Pat Riley reflects on Miami Heat ’21-22 NBA season, playoffs


MIAMI — The upshot of Pat Riley’s annual State of the Heat postseason media session Monday at FTX Arena was that he views his current roster as good enough to again contend.

But because he is Pat Riley, the bar rarely is set by the Heat’s president as merely being good enough.

“If we ran it back,” he said, “we would have a very good team. But you have to be, I think, very proactive in looking at how you’re going to improve.”

So, yes, eyes are already on something better.

“You can always think about running it back and be successful,” he said. “But is that going to be what’s going to lead to a championship? That’s all you think about.”

The Heat closed the regular season with the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, their season ending one game from the NBA Finals.

In the wake of coach Erik Spoelstra last week expressing a willingness to move forward with the same core, Riley appeared more open to change.

“I think we all realize that we can always use more, especially when you’ve gone through a season and then you’ve gotten results and then you begin to really analyze the result and why it wasn’t as good as maybe you thought it should be,” he said. “So we’re always going to try to improve the team. I think that’s what it’s about.”

In the wake of the departure of Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder, conjecture began over the weekend about the future of Donovan Mitchell. Several other NBA attack-minded scorers, the type of players Riley indicated could best augment Jimmy Butler, also have swirled amid the rumor mill.

“You can always use more,” said Riley, who over the past three summers made dramatic offseason splashes with the signings of Butler and Kyle Lowry. “But it’s got to be a good fit. But not at the cost of doing something that could be sort of prohibitive. So we will look, we will explore.

“If there’s something from outside that unveils itself that doesn’t cost us an arm and a leg, I would always be interested in looking at that. But I think we have what we need internally.”

Among other topics Riley addressed:

— He stressed the significance of having a 3-point threat such as Duncan Robinson.

“The first playoff game this year, he got 27 points,” he said. “And he’s a specialist, and you can’t win in this league without having them.”

But more also is sought.

“Yes, Duncan can improve,” he said. “That message has been delivered to him many times.”

— He said he sees value in impending free agent Victor Oladpio, but did not discuss a price point.

“I thought he had some great moments for us,” he said. “You do need players that can break down players on their own, or with their quickness and slashing can create their own shots.

“We’ll see where that goes. He’s a free agent. We have his Bird Rights. We will definitely be talking to his agent.”

— He stressed a goal of retaining 37-year-old starting power forward PJ Tucker, who has a player option to enter free agency.

“PJ is like a cornerstone,” he said. “I would love to have Tuck back next year. He’s part of our core.”

— He said it is not unreasonable to expect more offensively from center Bam Adebayo.

“This could be a year of: How can Bam be developed in a way to improve his consistent shot ability every night?” he said of the 24-year-old big man. “I think there’s another level at his age now.

“It can’t always be effort, on running, on lob dunks, on little floaters. There is another level we need more consistency to create good shots.”

— He said the playoffs served as an important eye-opener to his younger players such as Max Strus.

“Max found out I’m not a 40 percent shooter against the Celtics,” he said. “His game has to change a little bit, but he knows this.”

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— Of Udonis Haslem’s annual retirement question, Riley said of the big man who turns 42 Thursday, “We want him to be in this organization as long as he wants to be.”

— Of the March courtside incident involving Butler, Haslem and Spoelstra, he said, “It happened, and it was handled — quickly. And they got beyond it.

“When things don’t go well, they get to snapping to one another. That can’t be a regular occurrence. I didn’t like it. They didn’t like it.”

— Of rookie center Omer Yurtseven, he said, “He definitely needs to improve in certain areas of strength, mobility, footwork, back to the basket, also defensively.”

Of possibly being able to play Yurtseven alongside Adebayo, “Probably they could.”

He said he understood Spoelstra tabling that option.

“You hate to experiment during the course of the season in a way where it’s going to cost you wins,” he said.

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